Ka’thy Gore Chappell: Ordinary Miracles, Call and Real Life

I came late to the combination of “ministry & motherhood!”

While I have served in full-time ministry as a vocational calling since the age of 24, my husband and I dated when I was in my late 30’s and married when I was 41. One year later–on our first wedding anniversary–I was 7 months pregnant.

So at the age of 42, I gave birth to our daughter. She was healthy & beautiful!

Even though we were older parents, we were still “new” parents. It took us 10 minutes (not exaggerating) to get her in her car seat when we left the hospital to go home. (We have a video to prove it!) And I am always quick to say that our daughter would not have received a bath the first week of her life if it had not been for my mother who stayed with us that very important first week.

To this day, I still reflect on how quickly one’s life can change and sometimes joke that I am still catching up.

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From the first weeks of her life, our daughter–who is an only child–grew up “with” me and my husband. She was present where we were. She participated in college cook-outs, weekend retreats and mission trips. She worshipped God at church, on campuses and at state and national assemblies. She picked up trash with “Adopt-A-Highway” saying she “wanted to help change the world.”

She attended so many weddings of college students, she knew at age 4 how to find the family place cards at wedding receptions. She fell in love with Sunday School classes and the people in them. She experienced staff members as her dearest friends and called them by their first names.

She knew when times were tough with church. She noticed things. She heard things. She experienced the joys and the sorrows of church life. She mourned the passing of those who died and experienced the pain and struggle when life was not right at church.

While my husband and I were always intentional in how we loved, communicated and nurtured our daughter, we did become concerned that perhaps, she knew too much about church life. I was anxious that she would never want to be active in church as a young person or college student or adult. And of course, I thought she would never want to work or serve in ministry.

We underestimate our children, don’t we?

Imagine my surprise, when our daughter came to us to say that she thought she was being called to ministry. Part of me was not certain that I wanted that for her. Then, I experienced a God moment.

We underestimate the power of God’s call, don’t we?

Real life provided the space for God to call and for her to respond. Today, our daughter has graduated from college and is now pursuing a Master of Divinity while serving a local church congregation in ministry.

When did that happen? When did she grow up to be old enough and mature enough to have her own youth group? And how did God’s call on her life penetrate the good and the not-so-good parts of ministry that she experienced with me, our family and church?

The answer is that God’s call is greater!

From Isaiah 6:1-8, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of God’s glory. Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!'”

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Ka’thy Gore Chappell is the Leadership Development Coordinator with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Prior to service with CBFNC, Ka’thy was the Associate Dean of  at BTSR in Richmond and served North Carolina Baptist churches for over 30 years.

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